Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

The problem of evil obviously presents a severe problem for versions of Christianity that purport to be based on reason rather than faith. Leibniz’s attempt rationally to reconcile the existence of God with the existence of evil, while influential and ingenious, faces formidable objections. As noted above, Leibniz blocks the objection that there surely seem to be better possible worlds than this one, with his doctrine of the complete concept of the individual substance, arguing that a world without the Holocaust is also a world without Mother Teresa. However, even if the questionable complete concept doctrine is accepted for the sake of discussion, thus granting it is not possible to have the actual Mother Teresa without the Holocaust, this does not mean there could not be a very similar individual who ministers to the poor of Calcutta. What reason can Leibniz give for thinking that this alternate Mother Teresa is inferior to the actual one? In addition, Leibniz now has a problem making the complete concept doctrine consistent with the role free will plays in his solution to the problem of moral evil. According to Leibniz, Mother Teresa has a complete concept that includes the truth that she devoted her life to ministering to the poor of Calcutta. However, then this is a necessary truth about her, and so it was unavoidable that she would spend her life in this way—yet if it were necessary and inevitable that she would spend her life in this way, she cannot be...

(The entire section is 403 words.)